Corn futures jumped the most in six weeks and soybeans rose to a two-week high on speculation that China will boost imports to slow domestic food-price inflation.
Argentina expects China to agree on buying corn in the first half of 2011, Minister of Agriculture Julian Dominguez said. China normalized soybean-oil trade between the nations, and the first shipment is expected to arrive in December or January, Dominguez said. The Asian nation is the second-biggest producer of corn and the largest importer of soybeans and cooking oils.
“Chinese demand should increase,” said Mark Schultz, the chief analyst for Northstar Commodity Investment Co. in Minneapolis. “The deals are just another sign that supplies of food in China are getting tight.”
Corn futures for March delivery rose 22.25 cents, or 4.1 percent, to close at $5.6625 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest gain since Oct. 20. In November, the price fell 6.5 percent, the first drop since May.
Soybean futures for January delivery rose 40 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $12.83 a bushel. Earlier, the price reached $12.84, the highest since Nov. 16. The commodity climbed to a 26-month high of $13.485 on Nov. 12.
China’s moves to curb food-price inflation may not “negatively impact” the country’s demand for grains and oilseeds, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a report.
Rising meat consumption will support prices for feed grain and soybeans as China’s economy expands in 2011 and 2012, Goldman said. Steps to increase domestic-crop production may not change “China’s large import needs” because increased urbanization will limit farm expansion, the bank said.
Improving economies in China and India, the two most- populated countries, will support agricultural prices, Richard Feltes, a vice president at R.J. O’Brien & Associates in Chicago, said in a report.
China’s manufacturing grew at a faster pace for a fourth straight month in November, indicating the economy can withstand higher interest rates as price pressures escalate. India’s economy grew more than economists estimated last quarter, adding to evidence of strengthening domestic demand.
Corn is the biggest U.S. crop, valued at $48.6 billion in 2009, government figures show, followed by soybeans at $31.8 billion. The U.S. is the world’s biggest grower and exporter of both crops.
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